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First-Hand Account: Students Present Original Research Proposals at State Conference

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*Note: The following guest blog was written by Jacob Todd, a senior communication major and student worker in the Office of Marketing and Communications. 

With graduation around the corner, I’ve admittedly been scrambling to add extracurricular experience to my resume. Now, I can proudly add that I presented an original research proposal at a state-level conference. 

Several communication majors, including me, recently had the opportunity to present their original work at the 91st annual Georgia Communication Association (GCA) Conference. The conference was scheduled to be held at Dalton State College this year but was instead hosted virtually to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to participants. The conference took place over two days last month and featured speakers from over a dozen colleges and universities across Georgia.  

Four Dalton State communication majors presented their original research proposals on a panel led by Dr. Sarah Min, assistant professor of communication at Dalton State.  

We developed the research proposals in Fall 2020 as part of the coursework for COMM 4001: Applied Research Methods in Communication. The purpose of the course is to give students hands-on experience developing effective research methods to prepare them for their senior research projects – and for some, graduate school. Dr. Min encouraged us to take our work seriously – to become experts on our respective topics. Knowing we would be presenting our work at GCA in front of true scholars of the field, we made every effort to prepare ourselves for the conference.

My classmates, Brianna Guerrero, Jessica Carrasco, and Hannah Addis, presented their research proposal on “The Difference in Willingness Between American Citizens and Chinese Citizens to Wear Face Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19.” Their research was designed to study the cultural differences between the two countries and whether they played a role in the willingness of their respective citizens to wear masks. 

I gave my presentation on “Examining the Experiences of Latinx College Students Using the Acculturation Model.” The research aimed to gain a further understanding of the experiences of Latinx youth in their integration into U.S. culture by analyzing the transaction of cultural elements and evaluating acculturative stress. The inspiration for my proposed study came from what I believe is the wrongfully romanticized view of America as a melting pot to which anyone can bring their cultural values and engage in a cultural exchange that benefits all parties involved. I recognized that perspective as being disingenuous to the actual experience immigrants face when integrating into U.S. culture and was interested in developing research that could more accurately depict the transaction of cultural elements and the often less than ideal means by which they occur. 

“Conferences are an essential part of academic life,” said Min. “Attending the GCA conference is a great way for students to present their work. At the conference, students are given the opportunity to increase networking skills, meet with leaders in their fields, improve their communication and presentation abilities and learn about the latest research in their area. They build up their confidence along with their resumes. The four students from my Applied Research Methods class did a great job presenting at the GCA conference, and I am very proud of them.”  

It’s a great feeling being part of the larger conversation and community surrounding your field of study. I always held the world of academia in high regard. I had great admiration for the scholars who contribute meaningful work to their field. I thought that status was near untouchable to anyone who hadn’t dedicated a lifetime to scholarly pursuits. However, being on that panel and presenting in front of leaders in my field made me realize it’s not untouchable. Those opportunities exist for anyone willing to put in the work. I put in the work, I was knowledgeable, and I felt like I belonged. 

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